Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Unschooling" Confusion

It seems there has been some confusion as to what "Unschooling" is.
My husband thinks that the name "Unschooling" is a "turn-off" to people; and I think perhaps he is right. The term "Unschooling" says in an obvious way what we are not doing, and perhaps falsely implies that we are "Unteaching".... AND it says nothing of what we ARE doing.
He says "Unschooling" could feel like an insult to someone who is schooling because it is like saying "I am doing the opposite of what you are doing".... leading to the question of the schooling parent "Well, what is wrong with what we are doing? What do you think is so wrong with school?" And reasonably could lead to feelings of offense, or defense.

Some other terms for what our family is doing are "Natural learning" and "Enthusiasm-based learning". These terms say something about what we ARE doing, and what we value.

Below is a contrast of Natural Learning and Schooling.....

Natural Learning says "We will learn together."

Schooling says "You will go to school and learn with other children your age."

Natural Learning says "What would you like to learn about?"

Schooling says "We will teach you what we want you to know."

Natural Learning says "What are you curious about?"

Schooling says "We will teach you what is in our curriculum, and you can be curious on your own time. After your homework is done."

Natural Learning says "What do you think you will need to know? And how can I support you in learning what you need to know?"

Schooling says "We know what you will need to know, and we will teach you."

Natural Learning says "I trust you. I trust that you will learn what you need to know, and that you will learn it in the way that you learn best."

Schooling says "You are not to be trusted with a task as important as learning. You are irresponsible, ignorant, and naive. We will teach you what you need to know, in the way that works best for us, and that we feel is best for the majority. If we trusted you to such an important task, surely you would miss something."

Natural Learning says "Everyone is unique. Everyone learns differently, in ways that are unique to them. Learning is everywhere, and in many forms. Kinesthetic, auditory, visual.... learning is messy, hands-on, experimenting; as well as book learning."

Schooling says "Everyone is the same. Everyone learns the same. Learning happens in the classroom. Learning looks like reading and writing; with the occasional experiment for 'science'."

Natural Learning says "Learning begins in the womb, and continues for the rest of our life. Learning is life. Mentors are everywhere."

Schooling says "Education begins in pre-school and continues through high school and collage. Learning happens at school, and at home when doing homework. People of the same age should be together, and should be learning and able to learn all the same things. Teachers are at school. Lessons are in curriculum."

Natural Learning says "Learning is learning, and all areas that are important to the learner are important. Learning includes reading, writing, and math, as it is important and applicable to the learner. Learning also includes spirituality, relationships, learning how one learns best, seeking and developing mentor/learner relationships, reflecting and being aware of learning, goal setting, questioning, researching, creating, problem solving. Learning is endless and without bounds!"

Schooling says "Learning is divided into subjects; with a time and place for everything. The most important subjects are: Language, Math, Science, Socials, PE. Every other kind of subject is extra, an elective; and is not as important."

Natural Learning says "Public school is great, and curriculum is great if it is the desire of the learner; and if it is what works best for the learner."

Schooling says "You can't possibly keep up with other students, unless you are on curriculum. Work hard so you don't 'Fall behind'."

Natural Learning says "Developing a Love of learning is the most important thing. With a love of learning, learning never ends. A learner has the power to learn anything they need to know. The learner is empowered!"

Schooling says "Everyone is being graded and marked, compared to everyone else. Learning the curriculum and getting a good grade is the most important thing."

Natural Learning says "Learners have the right to be with their families as much as they need and want to. That it is natural to live everyday life with people of a variety of ages, learning from each other, and together arising from both curiosity and passion."

School says "Students need to be with other children of their own age for much of the day; learning from knowledgeable and trained teachers to learn important curriculum and develop proper social skills."

Natural Learning says "Learning is an organic, natural process, like growth."

Schooling says "Learning is from books, and teachers hold the knowledge. Students must be encouraged and bribed, threatened and rewarded."

Natural Learning says "A learner can learn from anyone! A teacher, a mentor, another learner, a book, an activity, an animal, an experience...."

Schooling says "Asking a classmate for help is cheating."

Natural Learning says "Learning often comes from making mistakes."

Schooling says "Mistakes are wrong. Your grades will go down."

Natural Learning says "Our children's learning is like a 'Fire waiting to be lit'."

Schooling says "Children are like 'empty vessels waiting to be filled'."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

DREAMS ~ and Variations of Real Life

(* this is less about unschooling and more about making sure we can continue to*)

I've been thinking that we underestimate the power of DREAMS!
Both the kind we have while we are awake, and the kind we have while we are asleep.... and maybe the times in-between too.

You see, every time we dream we CREATE.
We create an alternate version of how things are, how things could be.
And how often do our dreams become real life?
How often do they come true, and we find it is not quite as great
as we imagined it would be?
We dreamed and dreamed, we problem-solved and pursued,
then we are where we dreamed we wanted to be,
and we find it's not quite as great as we thought....
Or do we get their and it feels even greater?....
I have had both experiences.

Lately, I have been dreaming of our family in a different living situation....
I thought my dream was attached my set of values.... now, I'm not so sure. Unfortunately, Surprisingly, and for some reason Unknown to me,
this current dream was attached to a thing- "Stuff"- a new house specifically. In this dream, we have a large kitchen, a big fenced yard with a dog and goats! (Landon is making goat's milk soap), a pottery studio for me to work in, the laundry room is it's own room... lol.... an area to garden... We were all on board with this dream, and we logically, have been trying to sell our home to create this new one. Only one problem.

The problem of "Stuff".....
This dream-home is more Stuff.
And I'm not so sure I'm okay with that part of this dream.
With the Stuff comes more costs, more caring for the Stuff....
and often this translates into working more
for the money to care for and maintain the Stuff.
This part of the Dream isn't sitting well with me.
I highly value being WITH my family.
with my children. with my husband.
learning and living together. Everyday.
That is my most important DREAM.
I wouldn't ever want "Stuff" to become bigger than my Dreams of us


I am wondering, what need is My dream telling me I have?

Perhaps, My dream is to CREATE a more efficient kitchen,
not necessarily a bigger one;

perhaps, My Dream is to make better use of the outdoors
perhaps, My dream is to walk more, to camp and visit the beach;

maybe my Dream is to transform our garage into a pottery studio;
and maybe our washer and dryer could be moved into our basement.....

Perhaps, this is My Real Dream.... without the extra costly Stuff...
and perhaps it would feel as great as I imagine!

and perhaps it wouldn't.

but I continue Dreaming!
Aware of the power that DREAMING can have!

Dreaming grew into living my life with my best friend; one of the very few people who "gets" me;
dreams brought to life our children;dreaming allowed me to heal from my first birth by helping other mamas have their babies;dreaming allowed me to give birth at home the next time, with courage and faith; dreaming allowed us to imagine what we could make of this affordable rundown home we have renovated; dreaming of being able to stay at home with my children beyond the age of 5 led to homeschooling; and dreaming of something better than that has led to unschooling.....

What a powerful thing dreaming can be!?

So what have you dreamed of lately?